The Hidden Face of Human Trafficking

Last updated:
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

HAYDEN, IDAHO – Angie Sedore moved to Kootenai County from Albuquerque, New Mexico, about six and a half years ago with her husband. After what she describes as a spiritual revelation, she founded Safe Harbor in August of 2022. Safe Harbor is a 501(c)(3) non-profit focused on anti-human trafficking. 

The organization’s mission is to “rescue every man, woman and child from human trafficking, walk beside them in their healing journey and equip them with the tools they need for a full recovery.” According to The Trafficking in Persons Report released by the United States Department of State in July 2022, 54 percent of human trafficking occurs in North America and 93 percent of those trafficked are female. According to Operation Underground Railroad, human trafficking is a $150 billion worldwide industry, there are 49.6 million people in modern day slavery, and 35 percent of them are children. A United Nations report dated July 30, 2023, stated, “trafficking in children continues to be a high-profit, low-risk crime, based upon the principles of supply and demand. Children are treated like commodities that are bought, sold, traded and used over and over again.”

Many Americans only envision human trafficking in the context of the open southern border, and while the crisis at the border has enabled countless souls to be trafficked into our country, Sedore stressed that there are trafficked Americans who are already a part of our community that need help. A person does not have to be transferred between states or countries to be considered a trafficked person.

Sedore describes herself as a survivor of human trafficking. Growing up in a normal loving Christian home, she says she was sheltered and vulnerable when she went off to college. During her time at college, she met an individual she described as “a reputable businessman in the community, who was a counselor for the Boys and Girls club.” She said it was easy to trust this man, given her age and upbringing. After a time, Sedore considered him “like a second father figure.” What she did not realize until much later was throughout the course of the relationship, the man had been grooming her for sex trafficking. When payments on student loans started to build up, a female friend told her to go to the businessman for help. The friend turned out to be a recruiter for the man’s illegal sex trafficking activities and the man himself was the head of a Mexican cartel for that region in New Mexico.

When people ask her, “Why didn’t you just say no?” Sedore tries to explain the psychological manipulations. “You trust someone who has supported and loved you for so long. You truly believe they have your best interests at heart.” She explained how the manipulations were so effective that she feared him having nothing to do with her more than any threats or violence. 

In Sedore’s experience, she was sent to big cities within New Mexico to “meet” with the man’s cartel clientele. She was the product of his business dealings, much like drug trafficking, only this product could be used more than once. This continued for about four years and she described how she lived “multiple lives,” with the trafficking unknown to her family and co-workers, as were her addictions, including sex addiction, alcohol, and drugs. “I didn’t know how to say no, or that I was allowed to say no,” stated Sedore. “This put me in a lot of dangerous situations.”

“I am who I am today because of what happened to me,” Sedone stated. “There is a mercy about me for other trafficking survivors. I can identify them, I can relate to them, and I can help them find a way out. This is why Safe Harbor exists.” 

Survivors are put in touch with Safe Harbor mostly by word of mouth, especially family members who find out that their loved ones have experienced trafficking, or ask for the group’s help to locate a relative on the street who is vulnerable to human trafficking. Recently, a survivor called a local victim services hotline, and the hotline connected the survivor with Safe Harbor.

Sometimes the help is as simple as aiding the survivor to a safe location that is already available to them, and sometimes it involves setting up a therapy program and walking the survivor through the process of overcoming their trauma. The youngest survivor who has been helped by a member of the Safe Harbor board of directors was a young girl who had been trafficked by her aunt at only nine years of age. Through the course of her trauma therapy, she was instrumental in helping convict both her aunt and uncle of criminal charges.

Sedore cautions parents about the ease with which groomers can access children and young girls, and that women often facilitate the abuse. The role of social media cannot be overstated, especially through Discord, a popular gaming chat forum, and other social media applications. “Trafficking rings are talking to children on their gaming systems, through social media, and grooming them online,” said Sedore. “This has happened recently in our community.” She describes how a trafficker will create a fake profile, appearing as a young boy, and prey on the vulnerabilities of a young girl. “If you have a girl online that is seeking attention, they will build a relationship with the girl, eventually asking where the girl lives and wanting her to send pictures of herself, including nudes.” The trafficker goes on to sell the nudes to other individuals, which is sexual exploitation of a minor and considered a form of trafficking.

Sedore warns parents to never post photos of their children online. There are geographical locations attached to photos and traffickers are using artificial intelligence to take your child’s picture and place it into child sexual abuse material, also known as child pornography. 

Safe Harbor operates solely from donations and fundraising. The non-profit is hosting its 2nd Annual Mardi Gras Night on Saturday, March 16, 2024, at the Coeur d’Alene Eagles club on Sherman Avenue. Sedore invites those interested in supporting the efforts to end human trafficking in our community to purchase tickets, volunteer, or sponsor a table at the event via

Editor’s note: Sedore understands this is a difficult subject matter for the community, as no one wants to believe human trafficking flourishes in America due to the marketability of human beings. Because of the influx of people crossing over the southern border, she believes there is more awareness of the crisis. Reports of horrific crimes along the southern border, along with the high number of unattended minors who disappear into the interior of the county after “sponsors” claim them, are hard to ignore.